Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paul on John's image

Paul's been chatty of late. Below is an excerpt from another interview that he recently did, this one with David Lister of The Independent:
McCartney says touchingly: “There is this period of John which is all pre-Beatles, pre-huge fame, pre-drugs – and it is another John completely – that was always there right until the end. He got much sweeter, too, once he settled in New York. Once he was reunited with Yoko, and they had Sean, he became this sweet personalty again then when he was more comfortable with himself. But the acerbic John is the one we know and love, you know, because he was clever with it, so it was very attractive. But, for me, I have more than a slight affection for the John that I knew then, when we were first writing songs, when we would try and do things the old songwriters had done. I slightly regret the way John's image has formed, and because he died so tragically it has become set in concrete. The acerbic side was there but it was only part of him. He was also such a sweet, lovely man – a really sweet guy.”
. . .
I think Paul is both off-target and asking too much here. If any image of John predominates in the popular mind, it's Imagine John, the bespectacled secular saint who promoted peace, universal brotherhood and, of course, bagism. John the Salty Wiseguy will always take a backseat to this more high-minded figure. Secondly, Paul may lament that John the Sweetheart doesn't get more coverage, but such is life/posthumous PR for someone who had so many different sides to him. Branching off a bit, I wonder what it means to talk about the "real" John Lennon. It strikes me as an elusive concept because John's personality consisted of many moving parts. Some combination of nature and nurture shaped him into a complex individual. And he was a dabbler too, which pushed him in a variety of directions and sometimes made his complexity seem more like incoherence. (I think of "Count me" from "Revolution.") The end result is that the assorted images we have of John are all true to a certain degree but somewhat overstated as well. I suppose this was part of Paul's point. Fascinating topic.

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